Man with hearing loss trying to hear at the dinner table with his family.

Your last family get together was frustrating. It wasn’t because your family was having a hard time getting along. No, the source of the frustration was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you didn’t hear the details about Judy’s promotion, and you didn’t have an opportunity to ask about Jay’s new puppy. It was irritating. For the most part, you blame the acoustics. But you’re also willing to accept that your hearing may be starting to wane.

It can be incredibly challenging to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not advisable). But you should pay attention to some early warning signs. When enough of these red flags spring up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to get tested by a hearing specialist.

Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs

Some of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be going through some level of hearing loss if you find yourself recognizing some of these signs.

Here are a few of the warning signs of hearing loss:

  • Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Perhaps the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are as loud as they will go. Usually, you’re not the one that observes the loud volume, it’s your children, maybe your neighbor, or your friends.
  • Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re unbearable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud especially if it lasts for an extended period of time.
  • You find it’s hard to understand particular words. When consonants become difficult to differentiate this red flag should go up. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. It can also often be the p- and t- sounds or the s- and f- sounds
  • You have a tough time following interactions in a noisy or crowded place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
  • It’s suddenly very hard to understand phone calls: These days, because of texting, we use the phone much less than we once did. But if you’re having problems understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you might be facing another red flag for your hearing.
  • You notice some that your ears are ringing: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds also: thumping, buzzing, screeching, humming, and so on). Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if you have a ringing in your ears, a hearing exam is probably in order.
  • High pitched sounds are hard to hear. Things like a ringing doorbell or a whistling teapot frequently go unnoticed for several minutes or more. Particular frequencies (frequently high pitched) will usually be the first to fade with early hearing loss.
  • You keep needing people to repeat themselves. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to slow down, say something again, or speak up. You might not even notice you’re making such regular requests, but it can definitely be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
  • Next Up: Get a Examination

    Regardless of how many of these early warning signs you may experience, there’s really only one way to recognize, with confidence, whether your hearing is going bad: get your hearing tested.

    Generally speaking, even one of these early warning signs could be verification that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing loss you may be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing assessment. And then you’ll be better prepared to find the right treatment.

    This means your next family gathering can be far more enjoyable.

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    The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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